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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Info Post
(Published in The New Indian Express, School Edition, on 29 November, 2011, retrieved from

NOTE: This contains no opinion. It's a round-up of the controversy over the RTE, only useful for schoolkids and journalists. So, if you're here for entertainment, skip.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE), which came into effect last year, has made education a fundamental right for all children aged between 6 and 14. Passed by Parliament on 4 August 2009, it came into effect on 1 April 2010.
Now, the right to education had already been accommodated in the Constitution, but it was a directive principle which could not be enforced. However, in 2009, it was included in Article 21A, of Chapter 3, as an enforceable, fundamental right.
In order for this Constitutional Amendment to take place, an Education Bill had to be passed, specifying how the Act would be implemented. When it was drafted in 2005, it stirred several controversies, which have finally been resolved.
An autonomous body, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, was set up in 2007 to monitor the implementation of the Act, aided by state commissions.
What does the Act do?
The Act makes it the duty of the State to ensure that all children between the ages of 6 and 14 get a good education. Surveys will be conducted in neighbourhoods across the country, and children requiring education will be identified and enrolled in schools.
Schools are not allowed to hold admission tests or interviews, collect donations or capitation fees, turn away students who apply after the admission cycle is over, hold back students, expel students, or require them to pass board exams until elementary education is complete. There is provision for school drop-outs to undergo special training, so that they’re brought on par with the rest of their class.
All private schools will have to apply for recognition. Unrecognised schools continuing to operate will be fined Rs 1 lakh, and if they continue to function after this, they will have to pay Rs 10,000 per day as fine.
However, the most controversial provision of the act is that all private schools to reserve 25% of seats for children from disadvantaged families.
Why is the Act Controversial?
Some of the criticisms against the Act are:
·         It excludes children below 6 years of age
·         Educationists and groups involved in education were not consulted
·         It infringes on the rights of private and religious minority schools
·         It puts the financial burden of implementation on the states
·         It mandates that 25% of seats should be given to poor children
·         It does not address problems such as poor management, absenteeism, shortage of teachers, lack of infrastructure and quality of education in government schools
The government said it would compensate private schools for enrolling students who could not afford the fees. However, the states are only required to pay the average per learner costs in government schools, unless the fees are lower in the private school. Schools immediately protested, saying they would have to pass the burden on to the parents of other students.
At the moment, several cases in this regard are pending in the courts, but no stay has been granted on the provisions of the Act. This means, schools will have to keep 25% of seats for children from low income families.
In some cases, the courts have ordered that children whose education needs to be subsidised by the government must go to private schools only if there are no government or government-aided schools in the area, and that the government must reimburse the schools fully.
How Much Does the RTE Cost?
Initially, it was thought that a sum of Rs 1.71 lakh crore would be required for the implementation fo the Act. However, around the time the Act became effective, this figure was increased to Rs 2.31 lakh crore.
The Centre had initially agreed to split the costs with the states in the ratio 65:35 for all states except the North Eastern ones, where the ratio would be 90:10. Later, it agreed to increase its share for the rest of India to 68%.
How Successful Has it Been so Far?
A report on the status of implementation of the Act, released by the Ministry of Human Resource Development on April 1 this year, found that 8.1 million children in the 6-14 age group remain out of school. There was a shortage of more than half a million teachers.


2 July, 2009
Bill approved by Cabinet
20 July, 2009
Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha
4 August, 2009
Bill passed in the Lok Sabha
3 September, 2009
Bill notified as a Law after receiving Presidential assent
1 April, 2010
Act effective throughout India, except in Jammu and Kashmir
Committee exploring ways in which to extend the Act to cover students up to age 16.


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